Three Science-Backed Reasons to Curl Up with a Good Book

Before smartphones, we tucked a book under our arm to board a train, a plane or wait in a doctor’s office. We purchased, borrowed and traded them. Oprah gifted them and mothered a new generation of book clubs. Now, as we squeeze into our commuter seats, we find it easier to scroll through social media and perhaps read a quick article online. That’s still reading, right? Turns out, it isn’t. If you miss curling up on the sofa with a good book, here are three reasons why reviving your reading habit is as important as eating whole, fresh foods, and your no excuses workout schedule.

One—Six Minutes of Reading Reduces Stress Levels by Two Thirds

A study at the University of Sussex found that reading reduces stress levels by 68 percent and can do so within six minutes. Surprisingly, reading is more effective in reducing stress than listening to music or taking a walk. The body is designed for quick bursts of stress hormones, “the flight or fight” response of immediate danger. The body is not designed for the continual drip of cortisol endemic to our society and contributing to the rise in chronic inflammatory diseases. We may not be able to escape the stress in our daily lives, but we can escape into the pages of a good story.

Two—Prevent Memory Loss with a Lifetime Reading Habit

A Journal of Neurology study concluded that mentally stimulating activities such as reading, when continued throughout one’s life, reduces memory decline significantly. Mental activity late in life indicated a 32 percent lower rate of decline. Although researchers have yet to prove a direct cause and effect relationship between intellectual activity and Alzheimer’s, inactivity is generally considered a risk factor. As with muscle strength and flexibility—use it or lose it.

Three—Reading Helps Lull the Body to Sleep

The University of Sussex study also found that watching back to back episodes of your favorite Netflix series might help take your mind off work, but the blue light emissions from the screen signals the body that it’s time to wake up. The body wants to be lulled to sleep. A warm bath and story time induces sleep in adults the same as it does for toddlers.

Take a digital break before bed; the emails will be waiting in the morning. Curl up in a comfy spot under a cozy throw and spend 15 to 20 minutes with a good book. Buy them, borrow them and trade them. Let their pages dust off the stressors of your day, invigorate your mind and prepare your body for a good night’s sleep.